Gram’s Hot Milk Cake

This cake is so moist and sweet (and definitely not low-fat!). It’s so versatile: makes an excellent cinnamon cake, strawberry shortcake, trifle layers, Boston cream pie, layer cakes and more. And freezes well!


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 heaping teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 lb butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup milk (2% preferred)
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs, separated


  • Beat egg whites till stiff
  • Incorporate 1/4 cup sugar into whites
  • In separate bowl, beat the egg yolks
  • Add the rest of the sugar and the vanilla
  • Fold egg whites into yolk mixture
  • Add the flour and baking powder, slowly
  • In the meantime, heat milk and butter until butter is melted and mixture is hot but not boiling.
  • Pour the milk + butter into the batter and stir to blend.
  • Pour into two 9″ round pans or two small square pans or 1 9×12 rectangular pan.
  • Cook at 350* for about 25 minutes when a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake!

As shortcake:


Vanilla Icing

The icing we had on the cake for Mother’s Day was fabulous. Very wet yet not too sweet.  My grandmother recited this recipe from memory, and says to just play with the proportions to get the consistency you need.


  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1.5 cups of powdered sugar plus more as needed
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2-3 tbsp milk


  • Mix butter and sugar until well blended.
  • Add vanilla
  • Add 2-3 tbsp milk until blended
  • Add more sugar as needed to get your favorite consistency

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 BethT May 12, 2008 at 3:05 pm

So does this kinda taste like a yellow cake? or a vanilla/white cake?


2 LT May 14, 2008 at 12:02 pm

Is it really 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract in the cake, instead of teaspoons? I LOVE vanilla, but I want to make this cake, and I want to make sure I get it right. Most cake recipes I make that call for vanilla usually don’t exceed 1 or 2 teaspoons.


3 Kath May 14, 2008 at 3:35 pm

I’m not quite sure of the difference between yellow and white cake, but I’d lean toward yellow? I guess it’s on the golden side of vanilla.

I’m checking with my grandmother for you, but I think tablespoons is right. I’ll let you know when she replies.



4 LT May 15, 2008 at 7:16 am

I made this, lots of vanilla and all–smelled GREAT. You’re right, the icing had a nice “wet” feel to it. This would be fantastic with fresh strawberries and lots of juice, as in your shortcake pix above. Thanks, Kath–I enjoy reading your blog. Hi Kimmy-o.


5 Kath May 15, 2008 at 7:17 am

Yay! So glad you liked it. I can’t wait to make it myself – I think I will for our wedding anniversary (since we’re eating our anniversary cake the weekend before :) )



6 Phyllis Packal December 8, 2009 at 2:55 pm

My grandmother used to make cinnamon cake from her hot milk cake recipe. She poured the batter in a rectangular pan and poured melted butter with cinn. and sugar over the batter before baking. Do you have any recipes or directions for anything remotely similar to this? Neither my g.mother or my mom are still with me and I never got the recipe for this fabulous cake. Any help would be appreciated.


7 Kath December 8, 2009 at 3:02 pm


I don’t. I haven’t even made Gram’s cake myself yet. I’m sure you can Google it with cinnamon and see if you can find a comparable recipe.


8 Jess Wheeler January 11, 2010 at 4:48 pm

I recommend substituting the vanilla for fresh squeezed lemon. It turns it into a delicious lemon cake!


9 june Zeisse April 15, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Would I mess up the cake if I used less sugar? What would it be like if I used buttermilk instead of sweet milk? Just wondering. I would sure like to approximate the cracker barrel recipe for strawberry shortcake that I had years ago.


10 lori July 26, 2014 at 7:41 am

My mom is looking for a hot milk recipe th at her mother in law. made years……. Ago, it was made w with 2boxes of confection sugar instead of regular sugar, it was a heavier cake and so good ,please he


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